Old Valve Tape Recorder

The old valve tape recorder was given to me by my sister's husband when they went to live overseas. It was mono and hummed and was distinctly lo-fi.

I was nonetheless excited by the possibilities if offered for making tape loops. I'd seen a tape loop inside a cassette box but obviously this was a fairly restricted way of doing things - on a reel-to-reel one could edit exactly the section of sound required and thus control the beginning and end of the loop exactly. The cassette loop was more of a novelty that you could record onto and then marvel at the (unexpected) results.

I burned a hole in the side of the wooden case with a red hot poker and fitted a jack socket to it (not having a drill at the time) so sound could be taken directly into the mixer and added to our general racket.

One experiment I did was to record lots of notes and then splice them together in different lengths - having worked out the length of tape required for the duration of note I had in mind for the notional tune I was aiming for. Not having any kind of sustaining instrument I generated the source notes by rapid picking on a rubbish acoustic guitar I had, bazouki style. The results of this experiment were not satisfactory, as you can probably imagine.

Other than taking up a lot of my time and firing my imagination the old valve tape recorder didn't really see much active service with the Instant Automatons, and no photographs survive.

Back to Table Of Contents